Starting your own business is no easy feat, but you don’t have to go it alone. Thanks to a variety of programs from both private corporations and public agencies, it is possible to tap into grants to start your business without acquiring any new debt. Here’s how to get funding for a business, so you can turn your vision into a reality.
Federal Small Business Grants
A grant is one of the government’s tools for funding ideas and projects to provide public services, stimulate the economy and benefit the general public. Grants can be awarded for a wide variety of activities, such as innovative research and infrastructure building. Here’s where to start:
- Grants.gov is a wide-ranging database of government small-business grants administered by various federal agencies. The site itself is a bit overwhelming, but the search page provides a good starting point for seeing what’s available within your line of work.
- The USDA’s Rural Business Development Grant program is designed to provide technical assistance and training for rural businesses with fewer than 50 new workers and less than $1 million in gross revenue.
- The Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs invest federal research funds in critical American priorities to build a strong national economy. Through a competitive awards-based program, the programs enable small businesses to explore their technological potential and provide the incentive to profit from its commercialization.
Regional and Local Small Business Grants
In addition to grantmaking at the federal level, various states and municipalities offer small business development programs that can connect you with grants and other resources.
- Each state’s economic development agency helps small businesses find financing (including state or regional grants), secure locations and recruit employees. You can search the economic development directory for regional offices and local resources.
- At the local level, Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) provide support for small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs alike. They’re often associated with local universities or a state’s economic development agency, and many can help connect you with grants, as well as like-minded mentors and training programs.
- The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) invests in a national network of business centers, specialty centers and grantees. Their programs offer customized business development and industry-focused services to provide minority business enterprises with greater access to capital, contracts and markets.
Private Sector Small Business Grants
Many corporations and large nonprofits organize grant competitions to provide funding for small businesses. Opportunities to consider:
- The National Association for the Self-Employed offers quarterly Growth Grants of up to $4,000 to its members. Applicants need to provide details about how they plan to use the grant and how it will help their business grow.
- Through its Small Business Grant Contest, FedEx has given away nearly $2 million to small business owners to date. In 2023, each grand prize winner was awarded $30,000 to help fuel their operations.
- IFundWomen bills itself as the go-to funding marketplace for women-owned businesses, and their Universal Grant Application Database makes it easy to apply for multiple grants at once.
Take the Next Step
No matter the size of your company, Farm Bureau can help shelter your small business from the uncertainties of life. Your local Farm Bureau agent will spend time getting to know you and your business operation to help protect your future.